The 7 Vegetarian Recipes That Are Saving My Budget
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This is probably the first article that it almost pains me to write, because it’s I’m admitting something that I really, REALLY don’t want to admit: those vegetarian recipes all you young whipper-snappers are always on about might not be all that bad.
Now, let’s call out my problem for what it is: I LOVE meat. LOVE IT. I have no guilt around biting into a juicy burger, or cutting in a piece of steak that was just walked through a warm room. I love chicken, pulled pork is a delicacy, and sushi is the bomb.com.
But there was a point a few months ago when
most all of the meat that my girlfriend and I were buying was being consumed by yours truly. Now, she’s doesn’t have any political views when it comes to meat consumption: it’s just that she doesn’t like the taste. Combine the fact that I can’t stand being hypocritical when it comes to this blog, my girlfriend despises the taste of any meat, AND that I was carrying a little bit of weight around the middle that I simply didn’t need, and all of a sudden I had a really good reason to test this whole vegetarian thing.
Update: Since first writing this post, I’ve been fortunate to come across what can only be described as the bible of vegetarian meals for “carnivores”. If you’re looking for a cookbook that gives you cheap, vegetarian meals that pretend to be meat so well you’d think vegetables have faces, then check out The High-Protein Vegetarian Cookbook.
Here are the results:
Weight – 230 to 210
So this probably doesn’t come as a shock to many of you, but I was able to get my weight somewhat under control when I cut out meat. Which frankly, doesn’t make a TON of sense to me; after all, I pretty much only ate chicken and fish, with some steak sprinkled in maybe once a week, if that. But the numbers don’t lie: I was able to drop twenty pounds just by converting to vegetarianism. Plus I’ve only been doing this for 6 weeks or so; I’m kind of excited to see how much more weight I can lose (at 6’1″ I know there’s still some pounds to shred off).
There, you tree hugging hippies, YOU WIN.
Money – $24.53/day to $18.93/day
So this was another huge reason to give vegetarianism a try; just to see what sort of effect it would have on my wallet. After all, your budget for food is one of the more malleable parts of your overall budget. It’s not like you can just call up your landlord and be like, “Hey, I want a 20% reduction in rent, for no other reason than I just want it.”
Well, I suppose you can. But if I were your landlord, I’d just laugh at you.
So this reduction got me to a point where I was saving roughly $5/day. Which on the surface, might not sound like much. But over the course of a month, that $100-$200 can really add up. And here’s the other thing to keep in mind: if this required any more effort or time on my part, I most likely wouldn’t do it. I mean, the extra money is great, but there’s no way that I would find the additional effort worth it. Either way, I have to go shopping, and either way, I have to cook, so I might as well eat stuff that’s not going to clog my arteries with sticky but oh so delicious animal fat.
So because I’m lazy, I realized that not only does eating vegetarian require NO additional time or effort on my part, but it has the added benefit of helping me lose some weight. Which as we all know, can save you lots in healthcare costs over the long term. So it just made a ton of sense to me.
Keeps the girlfriend happy – Priceless
No, there simply is no budgeting technique that will prove better for your livelihood than keeping the woman of the house happy. And the move to eating vegetarian was largely influenced by her. Like I said before, she wasn’t a huge meat eater to begin with, but the one thing I DIDN’T mention was that she’s picky. Like really picky. Like “my-steak-had-to-be-broiled-not-pan-fried-ewe-that-chicken-looks-weird-yes-I-know-you-haven’t-cooked-it-yet-that-piece-of-ham-is-too-big-I-don’t-want-it” picky.
Bless her heart.
So instead of learning a million and one different culinary techniques that made me more of an artist/chemist than a cook, I broke down and said that we should just try rockin’ the veggies for a couple weeks. And so far, the results have been great. She likes most of the meals I put in front of her, and I haven’t had to bend over backwards to make sure that the pork chop was facing the right way when she ate it…
Ok, it never got THAT bad. Just teasing, babe!
Ok, so without further ado, here are the 7 Vegetarian recipes that are helping me stay under budget!
Cauliflower fried rice
This. Recipe. Has. Changed. My. Life. Unfortunately, this is one of the vegetarian recipes that the girlfriend isn’t too fond of, but that’s alright. Essentially, you take a head of cauliflower, stick it in the food processor, and proceed to fry it in oil with onions, garlic, carrots, eggs, and soy sauce.
I just about died the first time I had it. In fact, my girlfriend had to sit me down and explain to me that I wasn’t allowed to leave her and start dating a bowl of faux-fried rice.
But aside from tasting amazing, this is SUPER easy on the wallet. It’s just a couple bucks for the head of cauliflower, a couple bucks for the garlic, onion, and carrot. Maybe 15 cents for the egg, and the soy sauce I’m not even going to bother including because it’s so cheap. All in all, I can get all my lunches made, and tasting delicious, for under $10 (though if we’re being honest, it’s probably under $7).
Yep, right at number two is my best friend cauliflower. This is a recipe I’ve been making for quite some time now, and I keep waiting to get tired of it, but it never seems to happen. If you’ve ever gone to a Chinese buffet and had their normal fried chicken, this is essentially the same concept except what you’re frying never had a face or feelings.
You take the head of cauliflower, chop it up into bit sized pieces, and cover it in a batter that’s one part milk, one part flour, and as much/little garlic powder as you want. Once it’s covered, you toss the goodness in a frying pot of oil, and let it fry for 20-30 minutes (this depends on altitude, which is severely slowing down how fast I can cook). You pull it out, and start making what can only be described as a firework of Asian – saucy goodness. You can check out the video below; it’s got a whole bunch of ingredients that you don’t need me to spell out.
BUT HERE’S THE KICKER, AND YOU HAVE TO DO THIS TO MAKE IT DA BOMB.COM – get a small bottle of wasabi sauce, and dab it on like Cam Newton.
Your mouth will thank me later. 🙂
Buffalo… you guessed it… CAULIFLOWER
DO YOU SEE THE TREND?! DO YOU???!!! Obviously, my household accounts for 3% of the cauliflower consumption of the United States. But frankly, the stuff rocks. It fakes as a meat pretty well, and it’s not such a “weak” vegetable that it leaves you hungry in 45 minutes.
There are a number of different ways to make it. One of the most popular involves just tossing it in butter and hot sauce, and baking it. But every time that I’ve tried to bake cauliflower, it comes out crunchy as sin and neither my girlfriend nor I want to eat it.
So what’s a good American to do? DEEP FRY THAT SHIT TILL IT’S GOOD!! Essentially, I use the same batter from the last cauliflower recipe, but then I just toss it in a sauce 1 part butter and 1 part hot sauce. Does it really count as a “healthy” vegetarian recipe.
No fucking way maybe sure! But it does help save the budget, as a whole head of cauliflower might cost 4 dollars. All in all, it’s a meal for under $10.
Which is how I love my food: a heart-killer but easy on the budget! And as far as vegetarian recipes go, this is as close as you’re going to get to actual meat.
Quinoa, bean and corn mixed up goodness
This one has saved me many a busy night. Essentially, if you’re deciding to become a vegetarian, then you must give up all hope of avoiding quinoa. After all, it’s pretty much one of the only grains out there that’s going to allow you to get the protein your body requires.
This recipe involves cooking up some quinoa (in broth people; water-boiling quinoa is for squares), and throwing in some salt, pepper, garlic and… CUMIN?!
Hold the phone, I thought cumin was just for chili!!! Well, you thought wrong buttercup! Frankly, cooking quinoa in cumin (all alliteration aside) really wakes up the dish, and it just tastes like when you crawl into bed for the night: simply delicious.
Once you’ve got the quinoa pretty much all done, you throw in some beans, some frozen corn, and anything else that your little heart desires (cheese, anyone?) and you’ve got yourself one hell of a healthy meal, without breaking the bank.
Alright, so I’m going to level with you guys: is this necessarily the healthiest recipe in the world? No. Does it technically fit into the category of vegetarian recipes? Sure does! In spite of the copious amounts of cheese and bread crumbs.
So instead of using potatoes to make your tater tots, this recipe essentially uses broccoli as an excuse to consume baked cheese and bread crumbs. But it’s delicious, so fuck it.
All you have to do is throw some blanched broccoli in a food processor, a little bit of onion, panko and italian breadcrumbs, shredded cheese, and an egg together and mash it up till it looks… well, kind of gross. But after you make little tots with your hands, and bake ’em for 25 minutes (flipping halfway through, of course) then you’ve got yourself a cute little side and all your homies will be like, “Damn, that’s some good shit.”
This is not the kind of recipe that you’re going to be able to make after working for 10-12 hours, because it’s kind of intensive. But if you’re looking for something that’s fancy as fuck, but doesn’t break the budget, then you should definitely check out these avocado egg rolls.
There are two ways you can do this: you can “spring” (HA, GET IT? LIKE SPRING ROLLS!!!) for the egg rolls that come pre-made, and just use those, OR you can make your own at home. Because I refuse to do my shopping anywhere other than Wal-Mart or Target (because there’s no Wegmans in Colorado), these are sometimes hard to come buy, so I decided one night to make my own. The recipe for making your own egg roll wrappers can be found here.
Quick side note: if you think you’ve rolled them out thin enough, than you haven’t. You really, really haven’t. Like what’s supposed to be a delicious, cute recipe becomes a fearsome phallic food that frightens the heart of many a brave man.
But anywho, here’s how it’s made: essentially, you just have to throw together some guacamole, (which after living 4 miles from Mexico, my girlfriend and I are PARTICULARLY good at!), and use that as the filler for the rolls. Wrap ’em up, fry ’em for a couple minutes each side, and you’ve got a food that even your vegan friends can’t say no to!
And finally… Veggie Nuggets
There are literally 1,123,394 recipes on the internet for veggie nuggets, and frankly they’re pretty hard to mess up. The one that I used calls for carrots, potatoes, golden beets, parsnips, and a couple other veggies. All you have to do is food process those bad boys up, make little discs out of them, and fry them.
Now, helpful hint that I wish I knew: Golden beets are not the same thing as regular beets. In fact, they make for a VERY different kind of veggie nugget. The first time I made them was with regular beets, and while they tasted very sweet and “Beet-y”, they came out looking like the bathtub from the first season of Breaking Bad.
If you’ve seen that episode, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t seen that episode, please google it and accept my apology. 🙂
But they tasted pretty damn good. Just be sure that when you make it, you don’t make the nuggets with vegetables the color of blood. Kinda hard to salvage your appetite after that. Unless you’re into that sort of thing… which means you’re gross…
The 7 Vegetarian Recipes That Are Saving My Budget – The Wrap Up
So there you have it folks! Not only is this going to help you trim what you’ve got going on around the waist AND they taste great, but they’re also going to keep what’s supposed to stay in your wallet : $$$.
Now keep in mind, it took me a little while to get used to eating this way, and this does involve more cooking than just throwing the 2-day old Chinese food back into the microwave. But it really doesn’t involve that much more time in the kitchen, and even if it did, the pro’s far outweigh the con’s. And remember, if you’re looking for high-protein meals, you’re just not going to find anything better (or cheaper) than The High-Protein Vegetarian Cookbook.
So, vegetarians abound: did you find that restricting yourself to only ground food helped out your budget? Or did you not really notice a difference? Did you feel better/lose weight? Comment below!
Keep trying to crack the code (to delicious vegetarian dishes, even though you love burgers more than the hairspray industry loves Trump),
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